Local govt, love it or hate it?

Is local government all about taxes, or is there something more?

When I think of local government I always think taxes and resource consent.  But, if this all it is, why aren’t these functions managed our nation’s capital?

These questions and more are answered in the latest offering from the NZ Initiative,
“The Local Formula Myths, Facts & Legends”

Here is a short excerpt from the Foreward of the report  by the head of the NZ Initiative, Dr Eric Crampton.

Krupp and Wilkinson began this work this year so we could start better to understand why local government pursues policies that, to an outside observer, seem utterly daft. Why set zoning rules that ruin housing affordability? Why run consenting processes that seem designed to give every objector the power to veto while putting little or no weight on the voices of those who could have lived in the new apartments or subdivisions? Even simple things, like consenting for a gravel pit, becomes tied down in difficult processes, as Krupp’s report last year on New Zealand’s mineral estate demonstrated.
In short, why does local government sometimes behave as though growth is something to be prevented or contained rather than something to be welcomed?

The Initiative’s new report canvasses some potential explanations but the fundamental problem seems to be political economy. When local government is potentially financially liable for any flaws in buildings that they consent, but sees little upside from faster consenting processes, we should not be surprised that things move slowly. Local political pressures mean councillors supporting new development risk being voted out of office before new residents can move in. Consenting processes empowering Not In My Back Yard objections entrench the status quo and prevent growth. As a bottom line, when local councils bear most of the costs of new development, but the benefits largely flow through to central government, we might reverse the usual conclusions about local government. If anything, it is perhaps surprising that local councils function as well as they do, given their constraints.
This report does not develop policy conclusions…  But a report developed in parallel with this one pointed to a process for unblocking regional growth. As Krupp and Wilkinson became increasingly convinced that political economy rather than current financial constraints were the fundamental drivers of some councils’ reluctance to embrace growth, Khyaati Acharya and I proposed regionally based policy reform as potential solution.

Abstracting from the political constraint, restoring housing affordability is a solved problem: allow greater density within our cities’ centres; abolish rules like minimum apartment sizes and minimum parking requirements that push up housing costs;
and end the rules that stop cities from expanding at the fringes.

But abstracting from the political constraint is too much like the proverbial economist’s assuming the existence of the necessary can-opener. The more interesting remaining problem is how to change the underlying political economy so that both local and central government can embrace
growth and change.

Italics mine…

This is a great conversation starter.

If you would like to download the full report head over to the NZ Initiative website.

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This may not surprise you…

BUT, some issues we are currently facing (such as oil price drops and stock market drops) are not a surprise.

The oil price drop is no surprise to most analysts, or it’s impact on the global economy.  The big picture is that it could be good for the masses.  Reducing living costs, encouraging spending in other areas, boosting other parts of the economy.

When these times of uncertainty come (and there have been enough of them since 2008). What do you do?  Who do you listen to?

That is where a good investment adviser comes in.  We help you through the questions and media headlines to the heart of what is going on and what you can do about it.

There will always be uncertainty, that much is certain.

If you are having trouble sleeping due to fretting about your investments, you have a few choices:

  • Do nothing
  • Find a financial adviser you trust to talk it over with
  • Talk to your friends who read the same news you do
  • Talk to someone who looks at the big picture and has your best interests first and foremost in their mind. This should be the financial adviser you trust)

None of us can change the past, but we can change the present to have a positive impact on our future.

Don’t trust everything you read or hear in the media. Try to understand the angle and motivation of the person who wrote the article instead. As the saying goes, it’s not news unless it is bad news.

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Negotiating with the Bank – Can it be done?

Of course it can, and it should.

One of my clients recently told me that she had been sent a notice, to say that on a particular date the mortgage would increase to a certain rate.  She didn’t like the rate so rang, explained she wasn’t happy and managed to negotiate a much better result for her family. Even though interest rates are currently low, it shouldn’t stop you from trying to negotiate.

Whether it is paying down debt, or wanting to be paid a better rate of interest, you can ask.  In the 2015-12-25 12.01.00past, I do remember, when banks held everyone to ransom, it was not “proper” or expected to ask a bank to do a better deal.

These days banks are more flexible and fluid creatures of commerce, and as such can be negotiated with.  If your bank won’t negotiate and you know you are in a good position, there is nothing stopping you from getting another bank to listen to you and change.

Don’t be afraid, all they can do is say no…

And if they do? What you do next will be your choice.

Oh, and if you do want to pay your mortgage off faster and start saving thousands, please ask.

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Just make sure you do this in 2016

In all my time as an adviser there is still one thing that distresses me, seeing families grieving. But, there are different kinds of grief, shock, long slow grief and short grief, but what is worse is when the person who left leaves behind a paperwork mess for someone else to clean up.

I don’t know anyone who would purposely cause extra stress or harm for those closest to them. In times of stress decision-making abilities are put under strain, amongst other things.  Presuming that your family will know your wishes if you go is fraught with danger, danger of pulling families apart unnecessarily.

If you leave behind loved ones through dementia or death they be very unhappy if you haven’t done this:

FINISH YOUR ESTATE PLANNINGReady for Anything

This includes but is not limited to:

  • your Will (is it up to date?)
  • your Living Will (what happens when you can’t make decisions for yourself?)
  • does anyone know where this information is?

Most people I talk to say, “I started thinking about that the other day…”

If you don’t let people know what your wishes are and leave them where someone can find them, you are causing extra upheaval at a very stressful time.

Whatever you do in 2016, sort out your estate planning.

None of us know when we will go, so do it now.

I have three free copies of the book above to give away, email me prize@decisionmakers.co.nz if you would like one.

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Welcome to 2016

Wishing you all the best for 2016What does the new year hold?

For most of us it is the hope of something better.

The fireworks go off, the parties happen, the music plays and for one moment everything seems right with the world, so we make impossible resolutions…

Now I don’t want bring anyone down, but those resolutions we make are only followed up by 20% of us (I am told, I personally believe it is much lower).  So what about the rest of us?  Well, I have found a way to ditch the resolutions and have a year of positive change.

How do I do this?  I choose OneWord, the book if you want the full process is My One Word by Mike Ashcraft & Rachel Olsen.  Here is the basic process:

  1. Write down every character trait that you want to be better at, honestly, write everything down that comes to mind.
  2. Choose 10 to focus on, the ones that resonate with you best
  3. Research those 10 with dictionary definitions etc
  4. Choose ONE to focus on for the year, write it on your mirror, on your wall, get books out of the library that discuss the topic, talk to your friends about how they think you are in this area, and write a diary documenting your journey.

Last year my word was Intentional, for me it was about being intentional with my actions, trying to stop doing things “because I had always done it that way”, saying intentional yes to questions, as well as intentional no.

This is the third year of doing this, along with friends who now do it too.  I haven’t found my word for this year yet but I am getting close.  Also, small warning, the first time you try this it can seem daunting, but my best advice is “just go with your gut”.  If it resonates stick with it, there is always next year for the others.

Happy Word Hunting, Tanya.

 

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New to getting financial advice? Impartial resources for New Zealanders

On my quest to find impartial advice about finding a financial adviser I have come across this fantastic website written by the FMA (Financial Markets Authority).  The government department who controls the financial markets.

Lets start with the basics:Important

http://fma.govt.nz/consumers/investment-basics/

Have you ever wanted to know what to say when you meet with an adviser?

http://fma.govt.nz/consumers/getting-financial-advice/questions-to-ask-your-new-financial-adviser/

What is Kiwisaver:KiwiSaver logo_RGB

http://fma.govt.nz/consumers/kiwisaver/

And best of all, getting something for nothing!

http://fma.govt.nz/consumers/free-resources/

The information above is provided by the government in a bid to build confidence in the advice area, after all, they are the monitors of it.  Please let me know if this has helped you and what it helped with.

Note of caution: this site is really for New Zealanders only

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What does the TPP mean to you and me?

The Trans Pacific Partnership agreement is finally getting closer to a sign-off by all countries involved.  Most of the angst around the deal relates to the secrecy, due to the impact of decisions made by the few affecting so many.

Reading about what these sorts of deals with other countries have done, and the lawsuits that ensued as US lawyers took hammers to unsuspecting Chileans in particular raises concerns, so we need to know what it is and what it means.

One of the best articles I have seen so far, that has been reasonably easy to read is the one at this link, what-the-landmark-trans-pacific-trade-deal-really-means

Another thing to understand about this trade deal is that it is enmeshed in the fraught politics of China’s economic rise. To gain political backing in the US, the Obama administration has portrayed the deal as a way to box China into high trade standards and reward US allies in the region. But the end-goal for trade advocates is to get China into the TPP, not box it out. And with China developing its own style of trade pact within Asia, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, there’s hope that the competing blocs could push each other to improve standards in areas like labor rights and state-owned company reform.

So, one of the benefits, if it happens is for the rest of the world to see an improvement in labour standards. For China we believe this will mean, and has already started to mean, an increase in labour costs (improvements in welfare of workers), pushing some companies to find other countries that are cheaper, such as Vietnam and Bangladesh (less interested in the welfare of workers).

The article also points out that the net benefit to New Zealand, even by 2025 is only 0.9% of an increase in our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  GDP is one of the primary indicators used to gauge the health of a country’s economy. It represents the total dollar value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period; you can think of it as the size of the economy.  The figures around the benefits to each country are in dispute though just due to the secrecy and the lack of intricate details with which to base a certain answer on.

Here are what others are saying are saying about the agreement:

What Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multinational trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. The main problems are two-fold:

(1) Intellectual Property Chapter: Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of expression, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate.

(2) Lack of Transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy.

The twelve nations currently negotiating the TPP are the U.S., Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam. The TPP contains a chapter on intellectual property covering copyright, trademarks, and patents. Since the draft text of the agreement has never been officially released to the public, we know from leaked documents…

and from the BBC:

TPP: What is it and why does it matter?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is one of the most ambitious free trade agreements ever attempted.

Its supporters have billed it as a pathway to unlock future growth of the countries involved in the pact.

The critics have been equally vociferous, not least because of the secrecy surrounding the negotiations of the agreement.

But despite the criticism, the countries involved have been pushing for a deal to be reached soon and they are confident that even more economies will want to join the pact in the coming years.

So what exactly is the TPP?

It is a proposed free trade deal currently being negotiated between 11 countries.

Whatever happens, we are going to be stuck with it for a long time, and as the saying goes, “only time will tell”. The process now is for the agreement to be taken back to their respective countries for the governments to decide if they agree, as there will be some law changes necessary for all countries.  If they do, it will be signed and sealed, done.

If you would like to know more, here are some other links to follow:

http://itsourfuture.org.nz/what-is-the-tppa/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Pacific_Partnership

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2013/12/11/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-trans-pacific-partnership/

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